How We Started

Me2/ (“me, too”) was founded in 2011 in Burlington, Vermont by Music Director Ronald Braunstein and Executive Director Caroline Whiddon. Braunstein graduated from the Juilliard School of Music and was the first American to win the Gold Medal in the Herbert von Karajan International Conducting Competition in Berlin. He spent years conducting all over the world, including nearly 15 years educating some of the nation’s most talented and hard-working young musicians in the Juilliard School and the Mannes School of Music preparatory division. At the age of 55 he had an epiphany: he was uniquely qualified to create a stigma-free creative space where he could be supported in his life-long struggle with bipolar disorder. He decided to create Me2/ so he could work with others who are trying to maintain good mental health.

From the beginning, the mission of Me2/ has remained the same: to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness (including addiction) through supportive classical music rehearsals and inspiring performances. Me2/ serves as a model organization where people with and without mental illnesses work together in an environment where acceptance is an expectation, patience is encouraged, and supporting each other is a priority.

What started with just a small handful of musicians has grown to include 160+ musicians in three orchestras, chamber music groups, and a Flute choir. Our vision includes an international network of Me2/ Affiliate programs that are connected via best practices, shared values, and mutual love of classical music.

In 2014 the headquarters of Me2/ was relocated to Boston, MA, thanks to a generous gift of office space supplied by the Boston Area Office of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health.

The unique nature of Me2/’s work has garnered attention from the NBC Today Show, Al Jazeera, and the BBC, as well as numerous newspapers including the Boston Globe and the New York Times. A feature-length documentary about Me2/’s work titled “ORCHESTRATING CHANGE” was broadcast on PBS stations across the U.S. in the fall of 2020.

The 2021-2022 season marks our 10th Anniversary! We hope you will celebrate with us by attending an event or making a donation to support Me2/’s programs.